The crown is fallen from our head: woe to us, that we have sinned!…
I. THE PAST HONOUR OF JERUSALEM. The crown has fallen from the head; a crown, therefore, has been upon the head. The lament is not over something striven for and not attained, but over something, as it seems, securely possessed and now irretrievably lost. Notice how Ezekiel is instructed to put the matter (Ezekiel 16:12). In making Jerusalem to know her abominations there is a contrast with former privileges. Jehovah says, "I put a beautiful crown upon thine head...and thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty." Unquestionably Jerusalem and the land of which she was the radiant centre shone forth gloriously among the Gentiles. The great example of this is that queen of the south who came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon. God for his own purposes, inscrutable, and yet, as we must believe, beneficent, constituted it so that Jerusalem was like a fair woman crowned with a crown of pure gold. Other cities had their strength, glory, peculiarities, but Jerusalem was uniquely glorious. And so human individuals may have most attractive natural endowments. There may be physical beauty, or genius, or some ineffable charm of character, or great intellectual capacity, something that lifts man or woman above the common crowd, and thus puts upon them a bright and manifest natural crown. The same great secret power that glorified Israel glorifies men still, not for what they do, nor for any claim they have, but that in their glory they may stimulate and inspire others, and multiply the happiness of every life coming within their sway. It was for the sake of the nations that Jehovah glorified Jerusalem and made her beautiful.
II. HER PRESENT HUMILIATION. The crown has fallen from the head, but the mark of past and lost regality remains. It cannot be obliterated. The higher a nation climbs, the further it can fall and the more terrible becomes the spectacle of its fall. It needed all the slow and majestic ascent of Rome to greatness to make Gibbon's great book possible. Thus, looking from such a height, he had pathetic struggles and contrasts to depict, which would else have been impossible. So, also, we contemplate the aberrations and miseries, the cynicism and misanthropy coming out in the lives of geniuses who have missed their way, men of richest endowments who, from the depths of serf-indulgence and debauchery, might well cry, "The crown is fallen from my head." And so we see that the great crown to be desired is, not that which comes through natural differences or differences in social position, but that which comes through the divinely inspired quality of one's living. "The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness" (Philippians 4:1; 2 Timothy 4:8; James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:4). - Y.
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